Flexibility not to be feared

October 31, 2014

Employment reforms which passed into law yesterday are part of  National’s plan to create a fairer, more flexible labour market that helps lift earnings and create more jobs.

They are necessary reforms for:

1. More flexible work arrangements

Our employment law reforms will extend the rights of employees to ask for flexible work arrangements, including from the start of their employment. Current legislation only provides this option for those with caregiving responsibilities.

The law needs to reflect the diversity of different people’s employment needs in the modern, fast-changing economy in which we live. We believe all employees and employers should be able to agree on flexible work practices that suit both parties.

2. More jobs

Lowering compliance costs for small-to-medium sized businesses helps them to focus on expanding their business and creating more jobs. Last year 83,000 more jobs were added to the New Zealand economy, our unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries, and we have raised the minimum wage every year we’ve been in office. We need to keep building that momentum to help even more Kiwis into work.

3. More choice for employees

A return to good faith bargaining during employment negotiations will help prevent unnecessary, fruitless, and protracted collective bargaining that can create uncertainty for employees and employers. Our changes will give new employees more choice by no longer being forced to take union terms and conditions for their first 30 days of employment.

4. A stronger economy and higher incomes

Requiring parties to provide notice of a strike or lock-out will mean both employees and employers aren’t able to unduly disrupt the running of a business.

Enabling employees and employers to agree on flexible arrangements that work for both parties will help to lift productivity, growth, and incomes.

5. Protecting fairness at work

We’re maintaining the key protections for employees at work. Contrary to the politically-motivated claims of opponents, relaxing the current over-prescriptive and often unworkable provisions around rest and meal breaks does not override any requirements for breaks to be provided. We’ll also place clearer expectations on the Employment Relations Authority to ensure rights are upheld and timely resolution of disputes.

The opposition and unions are doing their best to show that workers should fear the changes. On the contrary they should celebrate the flexibility.

It is possible that a few employers will use changes to exploit staff.

That is always a risk but it’s not a reason to handicap the majority of employers and their staff with inflexible rules which add costs and hamper productivity.


Parmjeet Parmar’s maiden speech

October 29, 2014

National MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you Mr Speaker.

Esteemed guests and colleagues, friends and family.  I will start by offering my congratulations to the Prime Minister and the National team for securing a historic win and a well-deserved third term. And may I also congratulate all new Ministers and MPs, And, Mr Speaker, you on your re-election.

It truly is an honour and a privilege to be part of this high performing team and to serve my fellow New Zealanders. I would like to especially thank our leader, the Rt Hon John Key for being a source of inspiration to me, and many other New Zealanders.

I would like to acknowledge the National Party leadership team, especially President Peter Goodfellow, board members Alastair Bell and Malcolm Plimmer, Northern regional chair Andrew Hunt and former regional chair Alan Towers.

Thank you to Hon Paula Bennett, Hon Maurice Williamson, Belinda Milnes and Ele Ludemann for their encouragement and support.

To my campaign chair and team especially Diana Freeman, Gavin Logan and Rita Ven Pelt – thank you. A special thanks to our volunteers and the Young Nats – you all are amazing individuals. And I’m also thankful for the tremendous welcome that I received from the community.

As my colleagues will agree, none of this would have been possible without the support of my family. My husband Ravinder Parmar has given unwavering support, and thanks to our boys Jagmeet, who turned 18 a week before the election and voted the first time, and Abhijeet, who is 12 and very eager to become a teenager!

Earlier this year I was chosen by the party as the candidate for the Mt Roskill electorate, and I am extremely proud to have repaid their faith in me by winning the critical party vote in Mt Roskill.

Now, I am a list MP who has the privilege of looking after the Mt Roskill electorate. About 39 per cent of the residents in Mt Roskill are of Asian ethnicity – which is more than three times the national average of 11.8 per cent.

Just under half of the people in Mt Roskill in 2013 – were born overseas, and I am one of them. 

Mt Roskill reflects the growing diversity of our country, and it is clear that the National Party reflects that diversity. Mt Roskill is comprised of small businesses, professionals and hardworking people looking to get ahead in life. I can assure them that my values, and those of the National Party align with their goals and aspirations.

Mr Speaker, I was born in India, one of four sisters to very hard working parents.

My father, Sham Jaswal – is now retired after proudly serving in the Indian Air Force for 38 years. As you would expect, our home environment mirrored the morals, virtues and also the discipline of the armed forces. Actually, I am grateful to my dad for that.

My mother, Kuldeep Jaswal, looked after the family, and I spent my early years traveling with my parents from one Air Force base to another.

Those early years of changing schools every three to four years and moving between different Air Force bases in different states of India helped me learn about different cultures and lifestyles and also taught me how to make friends quickly. I remember it being a very busy time.

Mr Speaker, both of my parents worked hard to raise us, and to provide for us. And like many of my colleagues, education was extremely important in my family.

I remember during my final years at school the exciting new field of biochemistry becoming a proper subject and a popular topic of discussion at school, which attracted me to study biochemistry.

I left school wanting to become a scientist to find cures for deadly diseases so I completed a BSc chemistry and MSc from the University of Poona, India. During this time studying biochemistry, I realised the importance of gene cloning strategies to identify the cause or causes of diseases and I decided to do my PhD in this field.

But then, as is traditional in my culture, I married Ravinder in an arranged marriage, and came to this amazing country to join him and start a new life with him in New Zealand.

On arriving here in 1995 and settling into life in Auckland, I wanted to continue my education at the University of Auckland.

I was lucky enough to find Associate Professor Nigel Birch at the University of Auckland to supervise my PhD – he is one of New Zealand’s great scientists and he played an important role in making me a scientist.

To be technical for a minute, for my PhD I investigated a possible role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth by its over-and under-expression in two types of cell lines.

Neuroserpin is a serine protease inhibitor predominantly expressed in neuronal cells during the late stages of neurogenesis and in the adult brain during synaptic plasticity.

The result of my research suggested a new role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth in-vitro, and my published papers highlighted the physiological importance of neuroserpin with emphasis on its role in neurite outgrowth, neurite regeneration and maintenance in the nervous system.

Simplified, my work looked at if it was possible to use it to re-establish connections in the brain.

My post-doctoral work built further on this research, and then later moving into researching on retinitis pigmentosa – an inherited degenerative eye disease that causes progressive vision loss.

By this time while working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Auckland I felt it was time to put my training into a more practical realm and decided to move into the commercial sector.

After spending some time in the scientific commercial sector I decided to use my skills to move into business and joined my husband to start up natural health products manufacturing within our existing facility that was being run by Ravinder to make confectionery and chocolate products.

My days in business were focused on product development, improving efficiencies and productivity, and providing that best possible work environment for our staff.

My time in my manufacturing business gave me an in depth understanding of our local and international markets, our food manufacturing sector, our regulations, and how we compare with international markets and how manufacturing in New Zealand is distinctive from other countries.

Our local innovation keeps us one step ahead in the business world. We Kiwis are innovative people and full of ideas to start businesses. While owning and running a business is stressful, busy and often intense, it is also rewarding. I am eager to work for our dynamic business owners so their hard work pays off and that their great responsibility is recognised.

Like my family, I have always believed in hard work.

Monday to Friday I was a scientist and then later a business woman, and in the weekends I worked as a broadcaster for 16 years on an Indian radio station in Auckland plus of course my role on the Families Commission and the Film and Video Labelling Body.

Somehow I managed to fit in raising our two boys, and putting in more than a decade working in the community especially in the field of domestic violence.

My values of strong caring families and communities, personal responsibility and equal citizenship and opportunities mirror that of the National Party.

During my time in this hallowed precinct, I am eager to make a positive difference in a number of areas.

Firstly, science and innovation, and in particular the conversion of science to business. We are producing very highly skilled scientists and I do not want New Zealand to be just a breeding ground for good scientists. We need to provide opportunities for them to explore their scientific vision in our homeland to attract more interest and retain that pride of good work.

We need to supercharge the activation of the amazing research that is currently underway in New Zealand institutions, and apply it to our businesses, our industries and our products. I believe there are huge potential advantages just waiting for New Zealand to seize them.

I am passionate about enabling and encouraging business.

Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy – 97 per cent of New Zealand businesses are small businesses.

If big corporates are doing well or otherwise we hear about it, but small businesses don’t often make the news, even though they make up a significant part of our economy.  They provide a career for those who value economic independence, they supply components and services to large companies and they contribute to innovation and invention – something that all economies require.

But behind every small business are a group of really hard working people in different industry sectors, and I think they need attention so they can keep making the contribution they are to our economy. I believe there is a lot more that needs to be done to help them thrive. I respect and admire courage of all business people out there and those entrepreneurs who are starting up new companies.

I believe in family values and in the need to mount a coordinated effort to stamp out domestic violence and build resilience and respect in family relationships.

For many years I have worked in this sector and have seen the impact of family violence on family members, communities and in the long run on societies. We cannot afford to skirt around this issue if we want to increase the quality of life for New Zealand families.

Plus it makes fiscal sense – family violence has been estimated to cost the equivalent of Canterbury earthquakes on our economy every year. Equally as important though, is the significant negative impact domestic violence has on children’s wellbeing, psychologically and socially.

As an advocate for gender equality I also believe in merit. I am a proud member of a party, and a caucus, that does not believe in a quota system for women. I am here purely on merit and I would not have it any other way. I think many other Kiwi women feel this way.

Equally, while I am proud of my Indian heritage, NZ is the only place I call home. I do not consider myself as just an ethnic MP. I consider myself to be an MP who brings many perspectives and experiences along with my ethnicity, which I will apply to the serious and important work of an MP in this House.

Mr Speaker, with a multi professional background as a scientist, business woman, community advocate, broadcaster, and mother and wife with strong family values I have come to the House determined to make a positive difference in the scientific world, business world and our communities.

I hope to use my professional background and my scientific background to simultaneously bring imagination and patience to my work here, as having learned that as a scientist that sometimes it takes multiple approaches to get an outcome.

As a business woman I bring the energy, drive and eagerness that is needed in a business person in order to see growth.

And as a community advocate that has worked in the heart wrenching field of domestic violence; I bring appreciation of the effort and hardships of our communities.

I am truly grateful to all the experiences in my life that gave me this opportunity to evolve into the person I am today.

Since becoming a New Zealander I have had 20 years of opportunities and I believe now, it is my turn to give back.

It’s a privilege and honour to be a member of a team that is working for New Zealand, the team led by Rt Hon John Key.

Thank you Mr Speaker.


Chris Bishop’s maiden speech

October 28, 2014

National MP Chris Bishop led the address and reply debate with his maiden speech:

I move, that a respectful address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General in reply to His Excellency’s speech.

Mr Speaker, can I first congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker. I am sure you will continue to discharge the responsibilities of the office with skill and care. Can I also congratulate Deputy Speaker Hon Chester Borrows, and Assistant Speakers Lindsay Tisch and my opponent in the Hutt – my friend, the Hon Trevor Mallard.

It is an honour and privilege to have been elected as a Member of Parliament. I am here because the National Party has placed its faith in me to be an effective list MP. And ultimately of course I am here because over one million New Zealanders voted for National in the recent election. I thank the party, and I thank New Zealand, for honouring me with this important job.

I also thank the people of Hutt South. Lower Hutt was where I was born and raised and I am happy to be living there again.

I am proud to say I am from “the Hutt”, an area with which I have a long family connection.

On my mother’s side of the family I am descended from seven Dixon siblings that arrived on ships at Petone beach between 1838 and 1856. Edward Dixon was one of them and every summer when I go to the Basin Reserve I sit beneath his memorial clock in the old grandstand. My great, great Grandfather Joe Dixon walked the Hutt Road before it even existed and as a lay preacher held services on Petone Beach, a stone’s throw from where I now live.

From the days of Oswald Mazengarb QC’s famous report into delinquent youths at milk bars in the 1950s, Lower Hutt, I think it is fair to say, has had a somewhat mixed reputation. Stereotypes are hard to break, but let me say this: the Hutt is a wonderful place. We have fantastic high-tech businesses at the forefront of the new economy, excellent community facilities, a wonderful natural environment right on our doorstep, and most of all, we have innovative and spirited people.

I believe the Hutt Valley’s best days are ahead of it and I am looking forward to serving the people of the Hutt – from Wainuiomata to the Western Hills – as a list MP based in the area.

While I am saying thanks, I would like to put on the record my thanks to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today: my family, who have loved and supported me in ways too numerous to detail; my friends; my campaign committee in Hutt South, who ran such a high-energy campaign; the National Party leadership in particular Malcolm Plimmer, Glenda Hughes, and Roger Bridge; and the Young Nats who make it so much easier to stand by the side of the road at 6.30am doing human hoardings in the cold because of their infectious enthusiasm. Most importantly I want to thank my partner and campaign manager Jenna, who has been the rock in my life for the past six years.

As some members know, I have been lucky enough to work in roles behind the scenes for this government. I have worked directly for two very different, but exceptional Ministers: Hon Gerry Brownlee and Hon Steven Joyce.

It is a privilege, although I have to say somewhat surreal, to be joining them in a caucus led by a man I also greatly admire, the Rt Hon John Key. Thank you, Gerry and Steven, for your friendship, guidance, and wisdom. If I achieve half as much in politics as you have I will be doing pretty well.

I come to this House as someone who has always, for as long as I can recall, been interested in politics, history, public policy and the law. My parents – John Bishop and Rosemary Dixon – are to blame. From Dad I got my love of politics. Dad was in the press gallery from 1982 to 1987. He was chief parliamentary reporter for TVNZ during the momentous year of 1984. The political bug was transferred to me, or so the family joke goes, when he was told to talk to his new baby. Most people would choose the weather, or what was on TV tonight, something like that. His topic of choice was none other than “this man called Sir Robert Muldoon”, and I’ve had an enduring fascination with him and his politics ever since.

Growing up I would pepper Dad for stories about his time as a journalist – about the night of the snap election; the night of the Mt Erebus crash; about travelling with Geoffrey Palmer to try and save ANZUS. I drank it all in, and those stories and their lessons have shaped who I am today.

From Mum I got my love of the law, particularly public law. From both my parents I gained an interest in ideas; in current affairs; and the world around me. Our household growing up was one where everyone was expected to have a view; and not to be shy about expressing it. Indeed both my parents were champion debaters, and Mum was instrumental in establishing the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council, which I was president of for four years much later. Almost every year since 1988 the grand final of the Russell McVeagh National Champs has been held where we were this morning, in the Legislative Council Chamber.

There are now four alumni of the Championships who have become MPs: Jacinda Ardern, Megan Woods, Holly Walker, and myself. I am pleased that our side of the House is now represented on that list. I am sure there will be many more in the years to come.

My Dad’s side of the family – although not necessarily my Dad, whose politics I have never known – is true blue. The Bishops were farmers at Hillend, outside Balclutha in south Otago. My Poppa Stuart joined Wright Stephenson in 1928 and worked for them until he retired, interrupted only by World War Two where he fought at Monte Cassino.  Stuart and Cora Bishop almost certainly voted National their entire lives. They referred to National Superannuation as Rob’s lolly.

My mother’s side of the family could not be more different. They were Methodists in the great reforming progressive tradition and Labour voters to their toes. One great grandfather was a wharfie who won the honoured 151 day loyalty card during the 1951 strike.

My grandfather Haddon Dixon was a Methodist minister, director of CORSO, a social activist, and an inveterate follower of politics. The sort of man for whom Parliament TV was made. My Nana was a progressive socialist. In 1981 as a 61-year-old, sickened by apartheid in South Africa, she joined the Stop the Tour movement, helped organise a sit-down protest on the Hutt motorway during the Wellington test, refused to move, and was duly arrested. She happily did her 200 hours community service painting the Barnardos centre in Waterloo Road.

I think I get my social liberalism and reforming zeal from my grandparents – although I think it’s fair to say I didn’t inherit the Labour Party politics.

I come to this House as a 31-year-old – a representative of generation Y. Our generation doesn’t remember needing a doctor’s prescription to buy margarine, or permission from the Reserve Bank to subscribe to a foreign magazine, or any of the other absurdities of the Fortress New Zealand economy. It seems scarcely believable to us that from 1982 to 1984 all wages and prices were frozen by Prime Ministerial fiat.

For our generation, inflation has always been low. We’ve always been nuclear free, homosexuality has always been legal, and the Treaty Settlement process has always been underway.

New Zealand is a completely different country to what it was when I was born. I’ve always been profoundly fascinated by that transformation, and what its effects have been. For example, it intrigues me that while Bob Hawke and Paul Keating are regarded by the Labor movement in Australia as heroes, and receive standing ovations at Labor Party conferences still to this day, New Zealand’s own Labour reformers are essentially pariahs from their party.

I think it a significant portion of the Left in New Zealand has never made its peace with the economic reforms of the 80s and early 90s. And in some ways the debate inside the Labour Party today is the most visible manifestation of that lack of reconciliation. The battles of the 1980s are still being fought. That’s a shame.

A maiden speech is traditionally the time to put on the record your principles, philosophy, and beliefs. I will do so, with the caveat that I am not so arrogant as to think that my current views are immutable. Some of my political heroes said things in their maiden speeches they almost certainly would not have agreed with later in their careers. Roger Douglas’ maiden speech in 1969 is extremely sceptical of the benefits of foreign investment in New Zealand. In 1970, Paul Keating told the Australian Parliament that the Commonwealth government should set up a statutory authority to fix the prices of all goods and services, and bemoaned the number of young mothers who were entering the workforce.

I think good politicians listen, reflect, read, and think deeply about the world – and if necessary, change their minds. I hope to always be open to that in my time in this House.

Mr Speaker, I am an unashamed economic and social liberal. The classical enunciation of liberalism within National Party remains John Marshall’s maiden speech as the member for Mt Victoria in 1947.

I believe, as he did, that “the conditions of the good society are liberty, property, and security, and the greatest of these is liberty”.

I think individuals make better decisions about their own lives than governments do. A fundamental belief in the primacy of the individual over the collective should be the lodestar that guides all good governments. I think we should trust individuals more than we do, and be more sceptical about the ability of government to solve social problems.

I believe that the best way to deliver the prosperity New Zealanders deserve is through a globally competitive, market-based economy that rewards enterprise and innovation. The reforms of the 1980s and early 1990s were vitally important in transforming New Zealand from a sclerotic economic basket case to a modern, functioning, competitive economy, but there is more to be done.

I support a tolerant, multicultural New Zealand that is confident, proud, and open to the world. Our society is enriched greatly by migration. The periodic desire by some to scapegoat migrants I find deeply distasteful. I am proud of how New Zealand in only one generation has changed from an inward looking, insular economy and society, to one that is internationally connected and confident on the world stage.

I believe we can responsibly develop our natural resources, and improve our environment at the same time. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in New Zealand – both renewable and non-renewable – and we are not wealthy enough as a nation to not take advantage of them. What we know from history is that the wealthier a country is, the more able it is to take practical steps to improve the environment. Some of the most polluted places on earth were in the communist Soviet Union. Growing our economy through the responsible development of our resources gives us the ability to preserve things precious to New Zealand like our rivers, lakes, and national parks.

Mr Speaker, I come to this House with a long history in debating at school and university. I have a profound belief in free speech, the power of ideas and the importance of persuasion by those in public office. Fundamental, sustainable change in public policy is only ever achieved when the argument is won. That’s how marriage equality was achieved. It’s how Treaty settlements were started and how they have continued. It’s how we tore down the walls of the Fortress New Zealand economy and opened ourselves to the world. Because leaders in our Parliament made the case for those things and won the argument.

One of the proudest moments of my life was to debate in the Oxford Union, standing at the same despatch box that Lange stood at where he delivered his famous speech on the moral indefensibility of nuclear weapons. Lange was at his best when arguing.

Mr Speaker, I believe Bill English had it right in his maiden speech as the Member for Wallace in 1991: “What I bring to this job is a willingness to get into the argument rather than to avoid it. I owe it to my voters to present in Parliament what is best in them – a credible, constructive, and committed argument… Power without persuasion has no lasting place in a democracy.”

As long as I am an MP I will always try and present credible and constructive arguments – and I’ll always be willing to have one.

I am proud to be joining a government that is demonstrably making a difference for New Zealanders. I agree with the Prime Minister – we are on the cusp of something special as a nation. This National Government has an historic opportunity to be the kind of long-term government that doesn’t just administer the status quo, but one that can, through incremental, constant economic reform deliver ever growing living standards for all New Zealanders.

We have the economic opportunities right in front of us – globalisation, a rapidly growing Asian middle class, and technology ending the tyranny of distance. We have the right leadership through John Key, Bill English, and his Cabinet team. And we have the right policy framework in place: smaller government through better government, openness to foreign capital and labour, a tax system that rewards hard work and enterprise, and a growing culture of innovation. Most importantly, this government has a fundamental belief in the power of the New Zealand individual and civil society.

This is a government that is governing with a hard head and a soft heart. We are the first government in a long time which has a resolute focus on tackling some of the intractable social problems which have bedevilled New Zealand for too long, such as a persistent underclass; welfare dependency, Maori and Pasifika educational underachievement, and poor quality social housing.

We are not doing this by simply throwing more money at problems. Care for those most vulnerable is not, or should not, be measured by the amount of money spent, the number of bureaucratic agencies set up, or the number of people employed to deal with a problem. We should judge policy by results. Milton Friedman was right – “one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results”.

This is a results-driven government. Across the fields of welfare, housing, and education we are driving through quite remarkable and transformative change that is delivering results for the most needy in our society.

There is still more extremely important work to do. One thing that I am personally passionate about is our plan to reward excellent teachers and keep them in the classroom, doing what they do best – changing kids’ lives.  Everyone remembers their amazing teachers growing up. It’s simply wrong that the classic career pathway for good teachers at the moment involves leaving the classroom to move into administration. I am proud to be part of a government that is changing that.

Mr Speaker, when people look back on this passage of New Zealand’s history, it’s my fervent hope that they will recognise that it was the Fifth National Government that put in place the reforms to raise the quality of teaching in our schools, that challenged the soft bigotry of low expectations, that made progress on tackling child abuse and family violence, that made social housing actually work for people, and that invested in people to support their aspirations for independence from the State.

This government’s signalled economic achievements are important, but I think and hope that this government will be known for much more than that.

In closing Mr Speaker let me just say finally that I come to this House with the desire to serve. To represent the people of the Hutt Valley, to apply my mind to the challenges facing New Zealand now and in the future, and to work hard each and every day for and on behalf of New Zealanders. Much faith has been placed in me by many people. Mr Speaker I intend to work hard to repay that faith.

 


Barbara Kuriger’s maiden speech

October 28, 2014

National’s Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger delivered her maiden speech last week:

Tena tatou katoa, te paremata hou
te kaikorero tena koe
te pirimia tena koe
Ko nga mea nui, nga wai, te whenua me nga tangata katoa o aotearoa
Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa

Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Party President, Mr Peter Goodfellow.

And welcome to my guests in the Gallery.

My husband Louis, you’ve been a fantastic support and friend to me. We will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary 12 days from now at an electorate event in Otorohanga, which in itself indicates the level of support you have given me during the campaign.

Craig, Rachel and Tony, dad and I are very proud of you all, and I appreciate that you have all made it here for  this special occasion.  Tony, I know you are watching.  I want to mention your partners Kenneth and Zoe at home, and our four special grandchildren Zak, Max, Aislinn, and Theo.

Mum and dad, Leo and Leonie, thank you for coming.  I would also like to acknowledge my grandmother Joan Jeffries in Opunake, who recently turned 98.

Peter Goodfellow, Peter Osborne, Leveson Gower, and National HQ staffers, Young Nats, and party members; from selection to election you have all welcomed me and supported me in my quest to become a Member of Parliament. Together we asked lots of questions and took good advice, and here we are. Thank you.

I was brought up on a Taranaki Dairy Farm and I had one goal – never to marry a Dairy Farmer.  Louis, I’m very pleased I did because I learned the ropes, developed a passion and enjoyed my time on the farm, raising our family and developing an award-winning business which continues today.

This led to many of my industry roles, the longest of which I completed last week at DairyNZ.  I would like to especially acknowledge DairyNZ Chair, friend, and colleague – John Luxton, who is in the House.  John, you and I were elected to the Board on the same day in 2003. Over the past 11 years I have learned a lot from you, and respect the wisdom and knowledge you impart.

I’ve served on a range of boards over the past few years.  Primary Industry Training Organisation, Taratahi, and Dairy Training have provided me with the skills needed for the training industry. I was a NZ Young Farmers’ Board Member, where I suspect I own the honour of being the only grannie to have been a board member. As an Industry Partner to this group I was able to enjoy working with young people having their first board experience, who I know will feature in many areas of leadership in New Zealand over the next 30 years.

In 2006, I was fortunate to travel as an Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust Scholar on a food and agribusiness market experience to China, Japan, US, and Europe looking at supply chains and customers. This experience really highlighted the fact that New Zealand is favoured for its exports, indicating New Zealand’s standout place in the international trading arena.

In 2012, the Dairy Women’s Network awarded me the Inaugural Dairy Woman of the Year, which was one of my proudest moments to date.  It was not a one person accolade, as it was a result of all the experiences I have had to this point in my life, and of all the people who I have met. The information learned on this course and friendships formed emphasises the rural and regional woman that I am, always looking to the future for ways the primary industry sector can grow. I was also a board member of the Venture Taranaki Trust. In recognition of my governance roles, I was recently awarded a Fellowship of the Institute of Directors.

Taranaki-King Country is a large electorate, which extends from Waingaro right down to Toko on the border of Stratford, thus including Waipa and parts of Waikato.  Upon selection, one of my new constituents offered to buy this Naki girl a Waikato Rugby jersey.  I told him I would wear it with pride.  The respective mascots for the local teams, Mooloo the cow and Ferdinand the bull, always manage to create a great herd. And best of all, when Taranaki play Waikato, I can only win as the Taranaki-King Country MP.  Minister Smith, we are looking forward to the Taranaki versus Tasman final this weekend.

While I have an interest in rugby, it is not necessarily my favourite sport.  The excitement of V8 Supercar racing is another passion that I have to thank Louis for sharing with me.  I have been a passenger at 260 km per hour on a racetrack with a professional driver, and I can categorically say that my own driving skills are not quite up to that standard. I’ll be honest and say that I’m happy to be a spectator; supporting Louis as he drives his Star Car, much like he supports me in my campaigning.

In the large electorate that is Taranaki-King Country, we have eight district councils, about 17 towns, and many little villages. Our largest town is Te Awamutu.  Whangamomona is one of the smallest.  I am the MP who will not forget about the Forgotten World Highway.  I encourage you all to take the tour, an excellent tourism business set up on the old railway. I am the MP who will not forget the natural beauty of our electorate, which can be seen in the Waitomo Caves and the huge number of visitors that visit annually to experience the beauty of the glow worms and the history hidden in these caves. I am the MP who probably doesn’t have the willpower to drive past our famous whitebait fritters in our towns, including Mokau and Raglan, without stopping for that quintessential Kiwi lunch. Ultimately, I am the MP that is here to serve every one of our towns to ensure the future of Taranaki-King Country is bright.

Economic development in the regions is a key interest of mine.  Getting the right incentives in place for businesses to thrive in rural locations is a must.  Housing is not expensive, and the community is atmosphere supportive and embracing.  The call for more skilled young people is coming from every community.

Coming from Taranaki I have been witness to the growth that comes from a region that has worked together over many years to create a vibrant region, that comes from having an open mind, a willingness to trust new ideas, and a will to work together. From this we can see that when communities actively work together, success can be achieved.

Trade and exports lead our region’s income. The dairy and beef and lamb industries are predominant throughout our electorate.  Energy in itself is one of the integral parts of the Taranaki export economy. In Taranaki-King Country we also have dairy goats, Manuka honey, and a popcorn factory – something for everyone. But the young are not forgotten either, with the long established Fun Ho toy factory in Inglewood. Each of my grandchildren, the boys and the girl, all received a Fun Ho tractor and trailer for their 1st birthday, continuing the tradition of their parents receiving a similar tractor set for their 1st birthday.

Ultrafast broadband will provide a huge boost to our region.  The productivity that comes with connectivity will help us attract people who want the benefits of working regionally. I look forward to working with Minister Amy Adams to ensure this rolls out across Taranaki-King Country.

Roading and infrastructure will continue to be a focus in Taranaki-King Country.  I particularly look forward to the new roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 3 and State Highway 37 and the business case for the Mt Messenger/Awakino corridor. I also look forward to the development of various bridges across the electorate, which will further strengthen relationships between communities with improved accessibility and safety.

Mr Speaker, you recently came to visit Waitomo and Piopio.  Louis in particular was extremely honoured by your visit, namely because it was his birthday. That day we saw some great examples of fledgling regional businesses.  The new King Country Brewery and a small business in Piopio fitting out dinghies are indicative of the success that ensues when our regions work together, we thrive. We must make sure that red tape doesn’t get in the way of new and emerging businesses that will provide employment for our people. I’ve already seen some exciting technology businesses in Raglan and encouragement of more will be welcome.

Access to health, education, and community services are vitally important to rural and remote areas of regional New Zealand.  Under a National-led Government over 17,000 more elective surgeries have been administered across our electorate’s two district health boards. This shows those in somewhat remote areas of New Zealand are still gaining access to those vital services and that location is not a barrier. Across our region, more children are attending ECE before starting primary school, which is impressive for rural communities considering the distance that’s often regarded as a barrier. In time we hope to improve these ECE rates even more, with a target of 98 per cent by 2016.

Volunteers connect our communities.  From the Fire Service and Coast Guard, to those working in the prevention of family violence, I would like to thank all volunteers who do a wonderful job. Those who give up their time to take a neighbour to a doctor’s appointment, or those busy mums and dads who arrange play dates for the entire street; your support and continual commitment to the groups and individuals in our region is to be commended. These actions take away the vulnerability of people, knowing there is a volunteer support base to care for them.

Water will be a prominent topic, not just through the time that I spend in Parliament, but for years into the future. This is reflective of the fact we have an abundance of water in our beautiful country, and it is amongst my aspirations to ensure that we utilise our water wisely for our people, for our tourism, and for our industries. As a dairy industry leader, I appreciate how much work has been done in fencing, nutrient budgeting, and finding ways to improve water quality.

It will be a pleasure to join my first BlueGreens Caucus meeting.  National’s Bluegreen’s approach has shown that successful economic and environmental policy can, and must, go hand in hand. The abundant forests, rivers, and marine reserves are of real value and importance to the National Government, who are committed to long term sustainability of these areas that New Zealanders hold dear.

On the completion of my time as Dairy Women of the Year, I set myself a target that by the year 2020, in New Zealand we will no longer be talking about the disconnect between the rural and urban.  We have the collective knowledge, talent, and ability to work together to find answers.  It is a big call, but one that I’m up for.  I ask each and every one of you to join me in this project.  We only have four and a half million people – we have to work collaboratively to take on the world.

Thank you to my colleagues for the support that you have shown over the past few months and particularly over the past four weeks.   Maureen Pugh, the Class of 2014 enjoyed the two weeks we spent with you, we were sorry to see you go.

Samantha, Claire, Sharon, and Tracey welcome to my team.  With your help, I know Taranaki-King Country will be well served. Penn and Doug, thanks for your help and preparation.

I am excited about joining the Primary Production and Health Committees where I can bring some of my existing knowledge with me, and embark on a new learning curve where new knowledge is required.

I commit to be a hard-working and loyal Member of Parliament.

Tena tatou katoa.


Sarah Dowie’s maiden speech

October 23, 2014

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Parliamentary Colleagues and the National Party team.

As I deliver my first words in this awe inspiring Chamber, I am mindful of the journey that I have travelled to be here.  I am reflective of the definitive decisions I have made, the key opportunities I have seized, my discipline, my faith in the end goal, and the overwhelming loyalty of my supporters. 

Many try to get here and fail but with the support and sacrifice of my husband Mark, my children Christabel and Hunter, the help of my parents Ann and Alan Dowie, my National Party friends – in particular, Garry Thomsen. Anne McCracken and Jon Turnbull for their colossal efforts and now, with the mandate of the good people of the Deep South, I am standing here – humbled, feeling surreal. I also acknowledge our party president Peter Goodfellow and board member Roger Bridge for their encouragement and wise counsel.

Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-election.  I have learned much already from your own experience as a Minister and Member in Opposition and, I now look forward to learning from you as to the rules of engagement in the House. 

I am Invercargill electorate’s first elected woman MP and the moment is not lost on me.  The Invercargill electorate has, in the past been coined conservative, but is now charging forward into a new era. 

The Invercargill electorate is a mixture of both urban and rural.  It takes in the Catlins to the east with its ecological fame. It includes a yellow eyed penguin colony, a Hector’s dolphin pod, and the petrified-forest. Riverton and westward encompasses rolling hills, wind-swept forests and stunning rugged coastline scenes.  To the north there is Edendale and Wyndham’s fertile plains.  To the south is Bluff with its oysters and traditional port activities, as well as Rakiura that contains our newest and most remote National Park.  Finally, there is the city of Invercargill, our southern-most provincial city – steeped in Scottish tradition and one which holds on to that pioneering spirit. 

It is an electorate of can do’s, aspiration, innovation.  Businesses carving out new niches, capitalising on the tried and true of the primary sector, education, and tourism.  Developing and manufacturing new products for export. It is a quiet storm which is building to success. 

However, Southland will be tested moving forward – we need to build on the industries we have and ensure we develop opportunities for the future.  Industry productivity is challenged through a failure to attract more skilled people and families to the province.  While Southland’s economy needs to continue to grow based on its strengths in an environmentally sensible way it must also diversify to sustain it.  It also faces some real challenges in funding for essential services, especially when the spread of those services is across isolated areas. 

Despite these challenges, Southland continues to box above its weight per capita by generating over 12 per cent of New Zealand’s total export receipts.  We enjoy higher than average household incomes, high employment rates and we are some of the happiest people in the country, according to the latest annual Regional Economic Activity Report. 

There has been much media coverage in recent days and months about the cost of housing in Auckland so I say to those  Aucklanders who want a great lifestyle and affordable housing … does Invercargill have a deal for you!

I am deeply passionate about the region and will fiercely advocate for development that has already been identified to create more varied jobs, generate more wealth and more opportunities for Southlanders.  I will assist and support those who have innovative new ideas and I will be vocal on the delivery of effective essential services across the region.  That goes for anyone who wants to bring their businesses to one of the most cost-effective provinces in the country.

Mr Speaker, I intend to champion Southland’s progression to make it a province of choice for our people and families to thrive in and gain their fortune.

I am a proud mother of two pre-school children and while I am acutely aware of the juggling that I will have to do to ensure I do the job well but also to maintain that all important relationship with my family, I am not afraid to say that having children has changed my perspective for the better and driven me to contribute at this level. 

It is very hard to articulate the change in perspective as a mum but it’s a bit like going from watching black and white television to colour.  Or for the Generation Y’s out there, digital to HD.  I intend to use this breadth of view and colour in my approach to policy making.  One that is holistic.  I don’t view my life in a silo and hence I am supportive of the Government’s efforts to break down the silos of Government in its problem solving.  My opinions are mainly moderate, centre-right, and my approach to policy making will be for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

I am also the daughter of two police officers and by trade a solicitor, so law and order and justice is in my blood.  I was raised with a strong ethic of  ‘you reap what you sow’.

The consequence of crime and the reality of it was in the forefront of my upbringing.  My mother’s first husband, Constable Donald Stokes, was brutally murdered at age 23 while in the line of duty in Dunedin in 1966.  I was raised with his photos on the walls yet the tragic end of his life has been etched into my mind from a young age. 

On 13 November 1990, death on the job was again a reality as my father received a call from HQ to advise that one of his best friends, Sergeant Stewart Guthrie, had been shot dead at Aramoana.  I remember him methodically and soberly getting dressed in his uniform and walking out the door.  The sum of the following 22 hours, with helicopters flying across the airspace of Dunedin and the general unknown, was not lost on anyone in Dunedin.  However, it was obviously more pronounced for those with loved ones who were murdered or connected in some way. 

The sacrifice of brave men and women who put themselves on the front line to defend our liberties and the way of life which we hold dear in New Zealand is never far from my thoughts.  I take this country’s security and our personal security very seriously and as such I promise to uphold it, making sure that the Police and other agencies have the resourcing and tools required to mitigate threats and reduce crime. At the same time, I want to assure equal access to justice and the rule of law.   New Zealand as a safe and fair community is something to always be vigilant about.  

But nurturing and growing a safe community is not enough on its own, well not enough for me.  I believe in the concept of social justice in so far as it relates to enabling every New Zealander the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life and achieve their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  This cannot be done, however, by keeping people down on an endless series of hand-outs.  It’s about creating an environment where people are supported to take responsibility for and to navigate their own lives.  For they are best placed to make those decisions.  It’s about helping people gain the skills to get them into work and, with a bit of can do attitude they will find they have options.       

I believe as did the Honourable Ralph Hanan, Invercargill’s last Minister in -

“…. Further(ing) the real progress of all the people …”

Mr Speaker, I am here to serve all New Zealanders to build on the wins that this Government has already achieved.

I am here because it is our duty to build a New Zealand in which the next generation, our children, are proud of. Where there is opportunity to get ahead in a country that has a heart to help those less fortunate but also rewards those that have the determination to work and make their own luck.  I want our children to be pleased with the legacy we have left but also have the fortitude to build on this Government’s platform and drive forward initiatives for the betterment of all.   

On a lighter note, I remember Sunday nights at 7.30pm in front of the telly with mum and dad watching Our World, a series of fascinating nature documentaries that are probably responsible for fuelling my interest in science.  I studied ecology at the University of Otago and coupled with a law degree it became a powerful combination in helping my all round understanding of environmental issues and conservation.

It was a desire to still use my law degree but more of my science degree which saw me working for the Department of Conservation for five years.  However, the department at that time is certainly not what it is today.  The culture back then was that of dogmatic “no” and ultimately I became frustrated when well put together, environmentally sensible proposals were shut down with no logical thought to the greater picture of conservation. 

It should be noted that I believe there is a place for preservation in New Zealand but there is also a place for sustainable development.  The idea of protectionism which, is often seen as competing with development, recreation, and enjoyment can be effectively balanced.  We are ultimately part of our environment – we are not separate from it.  We are dependent upon the environment for our wellbeing and our living.  These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

However, this frustration was nothing but a godsend as it catapulted me back to private practice and wanting to stay involved in environmental issues at a higher level, I joined the Bluegreens.  Our rationale is that economic growth goes hand in hand with improving the environment and therefore, resonates with me. 

Inevitably I was drawn into the main stream of the National Party, party conferences, policy days, and candidates’ training – the final step that sealed my fate as to seriously consider politics as a career.  I am therefore sincerely grateful for the advice and friendship of Glenys Dickson whose gentle, well-timed, and highly effective nudges steered me here today. 

As Amelia Earhart once said: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

So Mr Speaker, what I have learned in my short 40 years on this earth and what attitude I will bring to Parliament is:

I believe a superior understanding of the rules wins every time – I guess therefore Mr Leader of the House that I will be a regular attendee at Procedures Meetings.

I believe you should play the cards you are dealt, play them well and then wait for the re-deal.  With hard work and perseverance, eventually things must go your way.

Fight hard but fight fair and never lose sight of who you are or where you are from.  Humility is a characteristic that should never be underrated. 

I believe that one should be kind because you never know when you may need kindness in return to get you by. 

On winning the seat of Invercargill I was told by a friend to “dream big”.  In response I defer to one of the most powerful symbols of triumph over adversity, someone who achieved and inspired despite the odds. 

Helen Keller said: “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” 

I promise to listen, to learn, to work, to dream and to do my best to soar. 

Mr Speaker, thank you.


Todd Barclay’s maiden speech

October 23, 2014

Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay delivered his maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I am humbled to stand here to speak for the first time in this Chamber.

I am humbled by the sense of history, tradition, and culture. But I am also humbled as I look around, because from today I am part of this place.

It is a true honour to stand before you as the representative for Clutha-Southland.

We are proudly the largest general electorate in New Zealand. We embrace Southland, South Otago, West Otago, Fiordland, and the Greater Wakatipu. At 38,000 square kilometres, we’re almost the size of Switzerland.

I want to acknowledge and thank my family, friends, Clutha-Southland supporters who are here today, and former ministerial office colleagues, in particular Jamie Gray and Julie Ash.

Mr Speaker, congratulations to you on your re-appointment, and thank you for the strong voice you have provided for provincial New Zealand throughout your time in this House.

I wish to personally thank some very important people who are responsible for me standing here today:

Glenys Dickson, Tim Hurdle, Michelle Boag, and The Hon Roger Sowry – their wisdom, advice and sound, loyal counsel has guided me throughout my journey thus far.

My campaign team, under the leadership of Jeff Grant, John Wilson, and Glenys Dickson – we ran a spectacular campaign, and it was thanks to these fine people.

My electorate executive, under the leadership of Stuart Davies, Ailsa Smaill, Nigel Moore, and each of our loyal branch chairs and the Young Nats – thank you for all your hard work.

I would also like to congratulate my class of 2014 colleagues, all of whom I sincerely look forward to working with over the coming years.

But in particular, I want to pay special mention to my friend and previous colleague, Christopher Bishop – you ran a solid campaign, and I am truly glad to be working alongside you, once again.

Mr Speaker, while not growing up on a farm, I do come from a good Southland farming stock, and I hope to bring this down-to-earth approach to the House of Representatives.

Dating back to the early 1900’s, three generations on my mother’s side farmed sheep at South Hillend near Winton, and three generations on my father’s side were sheep farmers and trained race horses at Croydon, near Gore.

I was born in Gore, and my family moved to Dipton when I was about three. 

My parents had the 4 Square and mail run there, before moving back to Gore in time for my final year of primary school, and it was there where I completed the rest of my schooling.

I completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Wellington while working at Parliament, as an intern to Bill English, ministerial secretary to Gerry Brownlee, ministerial assistant briefly in the Prime Minister’s correspondence team – I think you were overseas at the time – and a political advisor to Hekia Parata.

I then moved to Auckland and worked in public relations and corporate affairs, before coming home when I won the selection.

My home, the electorate of Clutha-Southland stretches from Waihola and Taieri Mouth on the east coast to Milford Sound in the west.

Our people vary from the farmers and service providers in and around Tuatapere, Otautau, Winton, and Gore, Lawrence, Balclutha, and Milton. To the tourist operators in and around Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glenorchy,Te Anau, Manapouri, and the Catlins.

We also have innovators, entrepreneurs, and professionals engaged in business throughout the length and breadth of the electorate.

All of these communities have differing social needs and local issues – and deserve my unique representation.

Despite such a large number of the residents of Clutha-Southland living in our larger centres the major influence in the electorate remains decidedly rural. This is something not to be forgotten.

The primary sector is still the backbone of this country, and of our economy, and I look forward to making a strong contribution on the primary production select committee.

I consider Clutha-Southland particularly fortunate though, because in addition to our strong provincial foundation, we include a world-class tourism industry which plays a pivotal role in shaping our nation’s proposition to the World.

Queenstown’s unique – among other things, we’re incredibly lucky, that unlike many other parts of the country, our challenge is managing the pace of growth and development, not generating it.

Mr Speaker, I want to talk about the areas where I intend to make my main contribution.

There are three main areas that are, in my view, fundamental to future growth and prosperity in Otago and Southland. I intend to make a difference in these areas:

1.   The Primary Sector. As a region, we are heavily reliant on a strong, high quality and productive primary sector, and a savvy supporting service industry. Innovation and a drive to keep doing better is crucial in order to keep pace with a growing international demand.

2.   Second, in order to move forward, attracting and retaining more innovative, skilled and qualified workers down South is essential.  To achieve this, we need to systematically lift achievement at each point throughout the education pipeline.

It is here I want to acknowledge the Minister of Education, The Hon Hekia Parata. I strongly admire her relentless passion and conviction to bring out the very best in every teacher and school, and keeping our best teachers in the classroom, so that they in turn can bring out the very best in every Kiwi kid.

If you want an example of someone who is truly in politics for the right reason – she is that person. I look forward to joining you in this pursuit as a member of the education and science select committee.

Cause as you say – if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

3.   And my third interest is trade. This is what motivates and drives our demand for primary sector growth and workforce enhancement.

We need to be constantly looking for opportunities to expand our export market base, which is why concluding a strong, dynamic TPP is critically important for the prosperity of my electorate and the country.

And as the people of Queenstown understand only too well, tourism is an important element.

New Zealand’s reputation and the experiences our visitors have while they’re here plays an important role in how the world perceives our country.

It helps that we have an outstanding Minister of Tourism, who understands the strength and dynamism of our tourism proposition and is leading the charge in attracting more and more high-value tourists.

My electorate’s tourism offering opens some pretty big doors and paves the way for a number of flow-on trade and economic benefits we as a country enjoy.

If I can contribute in any way to the delivery of tangible gains across primary industries, education, trade, and tourism and how they interact and intersect, during my time in this place, I’ll be proud to have helped enhance my region, and our country’s ability to grow its economic potential.

That is why provincial people deserve a strong voice in Parliament and in Government, on an equal footing to the representation enjoyed by those living in New Zealand’s larger centres.

I believe the key to the strength and success of the National Party in the future is to ensure that our party’s two core, indeed at times competing followings – urban-liberal-leaning New Zealand  and rural-conservative-leaning New Zealand – both continue to enjoy strong representation on an equal footing  in the highest ranks of our Party.

Because it’s important that we remain balanced in our views, realistic in our expectations, and resonant with middle New Zealand, that’s why I believe that our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, John Key and Bill English, make an exceptional, complementary team.

Mr Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, when I stand before you in this House, representing my view and the view of my people I do so with an appreciation of the true honour and responsibility that privilege brings.

I do so with the intention of being a strong, fair-minded, and informed legislator.

Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, when I stand before you in your Caucus, representing my view and the view of my people I do so with an appreciation of the true honour and responsibility that privilege brings. I do so with the intention of being a strong, fair-minded and informed member of your Caucus.

Parliamentary colleagues, for those of you unaccustomed to the Deep South,  let me introduce you to the people I humbly represent:

The people of Clutha-Southland exemplify the best of New Zealand. Of course, I would say that!

We are conservative yet innovative, astute yet modest, quiet yet ambitious, hardworking yet social. We are proud New Zealanders.

Our values are straight forward, straight talking, uncomplicated in our views, accountable to our actions, solid in our beliefs.

My values are simple. They are based on personal responsibility, free enterprise, and choice.

These are the values I will represent in our Parliament, Mr Speaker.

As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said: “We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous, and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.”

For my part, I believe that freedom and choice are fundamental rights of all New Zealanders. But we, as individuals, need to be responsible for the choices we make and for the actions we take.

Mr Speaker, I promise my constituents that as their MP, I will act in order to preserve those values that they hold dear. And let there be no misunderstanding, I will act, and it begins today.

I understand that my leadership as a representative requires much more than acting with no conscience.  I genuinely believe in my electorate’s values, and believe in my people. I will represent my constituency honestly and strongly.

It is here I want to acknowledge the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

I had the privilege of working for Gerry over Pike River and for part of the Canterbury Earthquakes. Gerry, it is your true selflessness, humble wisdom, and unconditional loyalty to the people of Canterbury that I believe, will see the history books mark you down as one of New Zealand’s greatest political leaders.

Mr Speaker, in the place that I call home we believe in phrases like individual responsibility, hard work, and equal opportunity.

Clutha-Southland is a microcosm of the National Party. We are a microcosm of heartland New Zealand.

As I begin my political career, I ask myself the question – what type of country do we want to be in 20 years’ time?

I know what type of country I believe in – a dynamic, innovative, determined country. Forward looking and forward thinking. That is the vision of my generation.

I am 24 years old. Like Marilyn Waring, Simon Upton, and Nick Smith once were – I am the youngest Member of this House.

People at my age are making choices that will affect them for the rest of their lives. They are marrying, buying houses, establishing career paths, and having children. It is important that when we are in this House we consider these people. I hope that I will provide a voice for my generation in this place

Although some young people might not realise it, politics and the other things that governments do affect all our lives.  Therefore, we must be in constant pursuit of delivering strong, stable, decisive government.

Consistent government; predictable government. That’s what we aim for and aim to deliver as part of Team Key.

It is an exciting future built on a platform of six years of good government.

I think it’s important and I will aspire to maintain those standards so that the senior generation can thrive; so that my generation can thrive; so that future generations can thrive.

In 1990, the year I was born, Simon William English came into this House. I’m the same age as his second oldest son, Thomas. He and I went to the same Play Group. I’ve literally known Bill and the family all of my life. And I want to acknowledge him, as the most humble, selfless, focused politician I’ve ever met.

The Hon Bill English, along with his wife Dr Mary English, and their family have served the people of Clutha-Southland very well for 24 years.

They are people of true heart, and true courage. That makes them truly heroic in the eyes of us all.

As our local MP, Bill was never afraid to stand up to those he opposed.

He was, and continues to be, a man of judgment who understands what really matters. He was, and continues to be, a man of integrity who would never run out on the principles he believes in, or the people who believe in him.

And he was, and continues to be, a man who understands the trust of those whose hopes he carries.

Bill English is a man devoted to serving the public interest. Thank you, for representing us proudly and strongly and setting such a high standard that I will strive to live up to.

To the good people of Clutha-Southland, as we look forward and begin shaping our future, we must never forget where we’ve came from, nor the people whose blood sweat and tears founded the path which we walk on today. Nor, should we lose touch with the present.

As I look up to the Gallery here today, I see a group of people who mean the world to me.

My family: mum Maree, dad Paul, sister Kelsey, Brodie Andrews and Margaret Williamson. As they all know only too well, politics is my passion.

The highest tribute I can pay to my family is that each of you are people of warmth, support and loyalty, and unconditional love.

Living up to the values you possess is what continues to make me strive to make you proud.

Without you all, I wouldn’t be here today. And it is the thought of you that will bring me back here tomorrow.

Now’s the time for me to stop talking and to start serving.

For as long as the people of Clutha-Southland will have me my time is their time – this is their time.

Mr Speaker, I am from them. I am them. And I am proud to be representing them!


Wrong process, wrong person

October 22, 2014

When National launched its constitutional review it chose Steven Joyce to lead it.

He was a successful businessman who supported National but had never been intimately involved with the party and came to the process without baggage.

In stark contrast, Labour has launched its constitutional review and has chosen Bryan Gould to lead it.

Chris Keall nails the problem with that:

. . . if you must have a review panel, head it by someone who knows how to win elections. . .

Gould is a smart man, I’m sure. But he’s not a winner in the game of politics. The ex-pat was a senior MP between 1979 and 1992 – a period of course dominated by Thatcher and the Conservatives as Labour struggled to make itself look anything close to electable.

Gould has poured vitriol on Tony Blair – the man whose up-beat style and move to the centre saw the party finally return to power.

Many in Labour will agree with Gould’s critiques of Blair for going too far in greasing up the press, moderating policy, and poodling to America on Iraq. In various newspaper editorials and his memoirs, Gould won the moral high ground hands down. But he lacks Blair’s ruthless and practical streak, and focus on likeability, that’s so necessary to win power.

A key question for NZ Labour is whether to shore up the party’s base with hard left polices or move to the centre, where elections are won. No prizes for guessing where the academic Gould will land.

Just last Thursday, Gould was comparing Key to Kim Jong-un. Great lorks if you’re a humour writer for the Internet Party. Not so much if you’re trying to talk to middle NZ. . .

Labour’s lost the election for several reasons and because it has several problems, none of which are likely to be solved by a review led by someone who can’t talk to middle New Zealand.

In another contrast, National had its review, reformed its constitution and reorganised then changed its leader.

Labour is changing its leader as the review process begins.

When it’s got the process wrong and chosen the wrong man to lead it, the chances of a successful outcome aren’t high.

 


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